Friday, May 6, 2011

Joy in Wretchedness

A few months ago, I had a bit of unexpected news.  This is what I wrote at the time:

Joy in Wretchedness

As many of you know, that was the title of my senior essay at St. John's college.  It had some second line or other, making the topic a little more clear.  I contemplated joy in Pascal's Pensées.  Sometimes when we feel furthest away from well, we are closest to our Lord.  I was influenced by the Little Flowers of St. Francis.  

There is a lovely little story, in which we are taught about perfect joy.  Perfect joy is not found in the good things of life.  (Small joys, to be sure.)  Perfect Joy, rather, is found on the cross.  We give our sufferings to the Lord, and we become closer to him.

Pascal, in his lovely swirlings about truth, often verges into dark.  I argued, that reading his writings through the lense of a bit of poetry on scrap of paper, which he carried around with him gives a clearer view of his writing.  

"The year of grace, 1654, Monday the 23rd of November, from about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight. Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob. Not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude. Heartfelt joy. Peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. My God and Your God. Your God shall be my God. The world forgotten, everything except God. Joy. Joy. Joy. Jesus Christ. I am separated from Him for, I have shunned Him, denied Him, crucified Him. May I never be separated from Him. He can only be kept by the ways taught in the Gospel. Complete and sweet renunciation. Total submission to Jesus Christ and to my Director. Everlasting joy in return for one day's striving upon earth. I will not neglect Your Word."

I am, at the moment, irritated that I could not find this bit written as he wrote it, with line breaks.  I could track down my copy of the book and sort it out.  But I won't.  I am miserable.  Truly miserable.  I feel awful.  I want to sleep, but I cannot.  I want to eat, but cannot.  I cannot even keep water down.  This unfortunate phrasing will have to do.

Joy is not isolated from pain.  In fact they are closely allied.  There is peace in the knowledge of Christ's love for us.  There is joy in each and every suffering which we lay at his feet.  

I find myself meditating on joy in wretchedness in a new way today.  I went to the doctor today, feeling unbelievably awful.  I do not feel better.  But I am happier.  I am pregnant.  

January 20, 2011

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